Robert Shiller says Harry Truman deserves a good deal of credit for his economic policies.
He singles out the Marshall Plan, under which America helped rebuild Europe – including vanquished Germany – following World War II.
“He was a very wide reader,” said Shiller, suggesting that gave Truman the keen sense of history that guided him in eight years as president.
Shiller, a Nobel laureate, will be in town Monday to accept the 2017 Truman Economic Medal. The Truman Library Institute, the Economic Club of Kansas City, the Missouri Council on Economic Education and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City present the award every other year. Economist John Taylor was given the award in 2015.
Shiller is known for a wide variety of work, including helping to create the Case-Shiller indices that track home prices. He’s an economics professor at Yale and is a fellow at the Yale's International Center for Finance. Shiller, Eugene Fama and Lars Hansen were given the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Science for their empirical analysis of asset prices. His books include “Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception.”
On Monday, Shiller plans to talk about the importance of narrative in economics. Much of his work stands against the idea that people’s actions are consistently and fully rational and that mass psychology is a powerful force. Economists don’t always fully take that into account, he said.
“Economists tend to admire physicists,” he said, though people and economies don’t lend themselves to such simple analysis.
That can cause problems for economists.
“They tend not to see the big things coming,” Shiller said.
Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, is to present the Truman Medal to Shiller. The Truman Library Institute says that’s “in recognition of his career as an educator, researcher and developer of financial and behavioral economic policy and practice.”
Monday’s event is at 6:30 p.m. in the Truman Auditorium at Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St. There’s a reception at 6. The event is free, but those planning to attend are asked to sign up at TrumanLibraryInstitute.org/Medal.